Blair Fallis joined the first cohort of students to study the new CodeClan Data Analysis course. Blair works as an analyst with Leidos, a Fortune 500® information technology, engineering, and science solutions and services leader working to solve the world’s toughest challenges in the defence, intelligence, homeland security, civil and health markets.
So it’s been a few weeks since my first day on the CodeClan data analysis course and what a few weeks it’s been!
The normal format of each day starts with the daily standup meeting around 09:00, where we all stand in a circle and pass the rubber duck around for about 15 minutes, each of us in the class (and instructors) giving our thoughts and feelings on the previous day, what went well, what we struggled with and what we thought of the previous night’s homework. After that it’s straight into lessons until lunch around 12/12:30 for an hour then back into class, or labs until it’s time to go home at 5(ish). During the labs we’re encouraged to go and sit in the large common area with all the rest of the students in the other classes, one big happy community working away on individual work or group projects.
Things started with getting to grips with Git, GitHub and the UNIX command line so we’d be comfortable uploading our homework for the instructors and teaching assistants to review, and then moving from there into the basics of the R programming language used on the course. Fortunately I’d been teaching myself R for a few months before the course started so the learning curve for myself wasn’t as steep as for some of my classmates.
We all get on well though and the intensity of the course has fostered a camaraderie that meant we all help the others where and when we can. CodeClan have been careful not to overload the students with nothing but dense technical work, so Friday was a deeply insightful day session with Stephen Hart, one of the Senior Managers of Medici Legal, a Fintech law firm in Edinburgh, where we discussed the laws around data, privacy and GDPR and how they would affect the work we might do in future.
Outside of the classes, Thursday night is social night where we were not given any homework, or ‘allowed’ to do any revision, so as the newbies to CodeClan we were all taken to a pub round the corner after class, where we were met by lots of the other students who decided to test us with a programmers vs data scientists game of beer pong. Obviously, we won with yours truly hitting the winning shot!
In order to make sure we’re fighting fit for learning, on Wednesday the student journey team brought in a portable grill and made pancakes for all the students, along with either scrambled eggs or syrup, chocolate sauce and strawberries – yum ☺
This week however has been even more full on than the previous two as this is when we started down the statistics part of the course, both teaching us the theory behind them and how to code them in R. Having had a quick check of the Higher Statistics unit I’d say we’ve covered all of it (except linear regression which is coming in the next week, along with a number of other techniques) in two and a half days, versus the sixty hours from the SQA.
That should indicate the speed at which the course moves at, but that speed and immersion means things sink in fast, and we’ll consolidate them as the course progresses. Today’s shift away from the technical side was around data governance and quality, two of the largest obstacles faced by data scientists/analysts, asking how we make sure the data we work on is correct and how do we keep it correct in future.
It’s Not All Work, Work, Work
We also enjoy a number of social events throughout the CodeClan data analysis course. The most recent was board game night, so a good sized group of students stayed for a while and got to play some fun looking games. I’m not sure any of them actually “wound down” from the course given how competitive they were getting by the time I left! Tomorrow it looks like we’re getting the first of the project work we’ll be doing over the course, and what looks to be the start of the visualisation process. Data is what we work on, when we give it context we have information but once we can tell stories with the information, then we’ll have wisdom that can be used.
Finally, even though I’m from Glasgow and there’s a certain amount of natural west coast/east coast rivalry in me, this is the sight outside the front door of CodeClan’s office and even I have to admit, I’ve got a smile on my face pretty much every time I see this, especially in the lovely weather we’re having…